The Convergence Festival is held every year from December 28th to January 3rd at Journey’s End Campground, in the country-side just north of Christchurch, New Zealand. Convergence has evolved into a co created event, meaning that all attendees are encouraged to participate in the smooth running of the event.
Convergence is an inclusive gathering open to people of all ages, beliefs, and backgrounds. The event is GE free, alcohol and drug free, dog free and eco-friendly. The food provided is vegetarian and vegan. The site has two large grassed camp sites, for tenting, campervans, house trucks, a marquee for communal sleeping, showers, toilets, facilities for hot water & washing dishes.
No money changes hands during the event and lunches, dinners and all educational workshops are included in the ticket price. Participants offer free workshops in a variety of subjects such as massage, healing relationships, self healing, yoga, arts, crafts, meditation, natural healing, sexuality, song, dance, and more. In addition to this, attendees can learn about cooking vegetarian and vegan meals from the talented cooks during meal preparation each day. Where possible all waste is recycled or composted.
In addition to the workshops Convergence offers swimming holes in the river, moonlit baths, sauna, music, jamming, drumming, cabaret, New Year celebration, arts and crafts, nurture space, creative kids’ space, spirituality, candle light sharing, support and community.
Bring yourself, bring your experience, and share it with everyone. Experience the beauty and wonderment of participating in creating a heart based living community. And always remember by changing ourselves we can change the world.
What is Convergence?
Here are some different perspectives on Convergence from past attendees:
“Convergence works on the principals of “follow your bliss,” acceptance and caring for the other, self responsibility, and collective creation. Some people do nothing — some everything (although there is an expectation that you will offer something at some stage, if you can). The magic happens when people offer unexpected talents (such as leading the Convergence choir, setting up a “No Thing” space, divining your Mayan birth sign, offering a sound healing workshop, creating a group for pre-teenage boys, showing the cooks a new dish, etc).”
“We offer a space for humanity’s best — for people to give it a go, try it out, give their best shot, do what they’ve always wanted to do — sunbathe nude, play in the mud, construct a sacred space, scream in the forest, try a unicycle, massage a stranger, sing in front of lots of people, manage an event… as boundless and creative as humanity can be in an accepting environment.”
“I think the acceptance that everyone is part of the whole, whether they ‘do’ nothing or everything, is a vital part for me. We are all equals no matter how much, or how little, we contribute.”
The following nine principles are embodied at the Convergence Festival: Community, Sustainability, Co-creation, Participation, Awareness, Respectful engagement, Self Responsibility, Healing and Personal Growth.
Convergence was founded on the principles of community and sustainability and today follows those ideals. Organic, GE free vegetarian food is provided for lunch and dinner and included in your entry ticket price. Vegan and special diets are also catered for. You will need to bring your own breakfast and food for snacks.
The Convergence Festival began in January 1986 and was originally called Towards 2000. The founding group wrote the following words regarding their intention for the event.
“The Towards 2000 Festival is not out to promote particular styles of living or specific values. The people who form the cooperative come from many different areas of Christchurch community and we are reaching out to everyone who wants New Zealand to be a healthy, peaceful place to live.
It is without doubt if we do not change direction we will end up where we are headed. At present where we are headed looks grim. In the face of starvation and wars that persist all over the world, the violence in our cities, the poisons collecting in our environment and even the anger in our personal relationships; most people feel despairing and powerless to help.
The vision that inspires Towards 2000 is that we can change the present situation. We can live meaningful, joyful lives in a supportive creative community. The purpose of Towards 2000 is to begin these changes now with the goal of peace and a positive social environment for everyone.”
Significant Past Events
Not another music festival — Towards 2000 began as a spin off from the White Cliff’s Music Festival. The intention was to move away from a pure music festival to a festival that encompassed a variety of different things including workshops, communal meals and community based living.
Beginnings— The first Convergence was held in 1986 at Whitecliffs with a small group of people who gathered for the event. The event has run every year since then except one. One year Convergence did not happen, but a group of four family’s met on the site for a picnic which they gave the nick name the Teddy Bears Picnic.
Tokotoko — The Tokotoko is the talking stick of Convergence and was gifted to Convergence. The name of the Talking stick is “Te puna aroha ki te ao hou” translated as “The spring of love flowing to the new world”.
Journey’s End — After a very wet year at Whitecliffs, with water up to the knees and mud everywhere it was decided to look for another site for Convergence. Cooking in a marquee was very tough in those conditions. The site at Journeys End was found and the first Convergence was held on its current site in 1994. The site was quite different to what it is today,with far less buildings and amenities and also far less open spaces for camping. But it was better than cooking in a tent.
2000 What’s Next — With the original name of Towards 2000, now called Convergence 2000, and Y2k looming there was a large turnout for the Convergence event in 2000. Over 600 people were in attendance, and this was the largest Convergence ever. There was a lot of discussion as to what happens next, and the 2000 was dropped from the name and Convergence continued.
Legal Entity — To meet the legal requirements any organisation is required to adhere to an incorporated society was formed. It proved extremely difficult to fit Convergence into this framework and it was eventually closed down and the Convergence NZ Trust was formed to provide a legal structure for the festival. The Trustees do not run the event, but have a role to ensure the ongoing future of Convergence.
Leaderless — Like most organisations Convergence started out with a keen group of people who organised the event. They made the decisions on what would happen and kept an eye on what was going on during Convergence. After a very large “heartbeat” group ran the event, the next year this structure disappeared. And since that time Convergence is run by everyone and no one. There is no structured leadership and every attendee is encouraged to take responsibility for their own experience. This provides space for people to step into leadership roles in their area of interest or expertise.
This is an ongoing and interesting experience, making Convergence very unique in the world of festivals and adding to the rich diversity of the event.
To Change the World
When I was young I decided to change the world,
but the world would not be changed.
So I decided to change my country,
but the country would not allow change.
So I decided to change my community,
but the community was set in their ways.
So I decided to change my family,
but my family would have nothing to do with it.
So I decided to just change myself.
Then I found that when I changed myself,
my family changed.
And when my family changed,
they changed the community.
And when the community changed,
they changed the country.
And when the country changed,
then the world changed with it.
Convergence is a uniquely co-created event where we strive to create community values of creative cooperation and collaboration. You’re all Co-Creators! We invite you to find your unique way of becoming involved within the community.
The richness of Convergence is made up from the contributions of the attendees. Every year is different because the attendees bring different skills and interests and it is the blending of all these talents that makes Convergence what it is.
Bring Your Passion!
Here are some options:
If you are able to arrive on the afternoon of 27th or morning of 28th Dec then assisting with setting up the site is appreciated.
In the Welcome tent there will be a large white board with a list of areas you can choose to help in. There are marquees to put up, the kitchen is set up, the nurture space, children’s space, sacred space are created.
We will also be looking for people to welcome everyone to Convergence at Welcome tent when they arrive (checking tickets and giving everyone the opportunity to choose their own unique Convergence pendant).
During the Event
During the Creating Community time on 29th Dec groups will be formed. If you would like to co-ordinate any of these please step up during the opening ceremony. Below is a sample of areas to volunteer:
Fire Stokers — Fire Stokers are required daily from dawn till dusk. The hot water supply for the Amberley Hall kitchen area is from a log burner. The outside baths / Amberley Lodge Showers hot water supply is from a log burner at the back of Amberley Lodge.
Kitchen — Volunteers are required several times each day.
Meal preparation — Morning approx 9.30am till lunch.
Clean-up — After lunch washing up.
Meal preparation — Afternoon till dinner.
Clean-up — After dinner washing up.
Toilet Cleaners — A crew of cleaners will be created to clean the toilets and showers in both lodges, port-a-loos, compost toilets, and toilet block.
Fire Fighters — Team of people who will be shown how to use the fire pump, hoses and the forestry packs.
First Aiders — Those that are first aid trained.
Soul Soothers — Compassionate listeners, counsellors, therapists, social workers.
Cuddle Café — Keeping the area clean and tidy. Possibly serving drinks to those that are relaxing.
Nurture Space — Healers, energy workers, channellers, visionaries.
Massage Tent — Massage givers, helpers to keep tent tidy.
Sauna — Maintaining wood supply, keeping fire going.
Sweat Lodge — Facilitator, fire stokers.
New Year Celebration — Visionaries, creative decorating, musicians, helping hands.
Cabaret — MC, stage hands, DJ, sound techs, lighting techs.
Workshop Presenters — Offer interesting interactive workshops email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Meal-time Entertainment — Musicians.
Composting — Keeping composting and recycling areas tidy.
Maintenance Team — To cover any plumbing/electrical, etc issues.
Found Property — Keeping found property area tidy.
Kids Creative Space — Creative helpers and cleaner uppers.
Older kids entertainment/programme — creating water slide, ball games, creative art.
Teens programme — Prepare activities.
Young children — parent support system co-ordinator.
Photographers — Please bring your digital camera and USB cable so that a photo record of the event can be downloaded onto a computer on site, for printing later into a photo album. Observe the photography rules, which are posted at the welcome and the info tents.
Commences afternoon of 3rd January continues 4th & 5th until complete.
Everything is cleaned — equipment and buildings.
Hire equipment is checked against hire list and stacked ready for pick-up.
Convergence items are itemised on lists then packed into labelled boxes for specific areas and stored in Convergence Container.
Volunteer/s to take mattress covers, massage sheets, tea towels to Christchurch for washing and storage until Autumn Mini Gathering.
Rocks and stones placed back in riverbed.
Rules are kept to a minimum at Convergence, however there are a few rules we have found to be beneficial to the smooth running of the event.
The event is alcohol and drug free
The site is dog free
We are eco-friendly
GE free and organic food is provided for lunch and dinner
No money changes hands during the event
Parents as primary caregivers you are responsible for the safety and well being of your children at all times.
Smoking is requested to be off site
Please attend the event from the beginning, we prefer people to participate as the community builds throughout the week. You may leave whenever you choose.
Please review the following points and ensure the safety of yourself and those around you, especially the children.
Fire — Thank you for taking care when using camping cookers and candles, etc., as the camp is in a High Fire Risk area and fire services are 30 minutes away. Lighting fires at this location requires a permit so thank you for refraining.
The River — is unfenced and borders two-thirds of the camp site, some swimming holes are deep.
Baths — there are outside baths available for use, please be aware that baths could have water left in them.
Bikes — Please leave bikes at home.
Cliffs — there are several high cliffs on the camp site — most are fenced.
First Aid — please provide your own first aid kit. In the case of emergency, Rangiora Medical Centre is located at 36 Victoria Street, Rangiora. Phone 03 313 7197.
Kitchen — due to open gas cookers, all children must be accompanied by an adult in the kitchen area.
Convergence endeavours to create a safe event. Please ensure you take responsibility for your own safety and well-being. If you need help during the event please speak to someone you can trust or one of the Soul Soothers who can assist.
There are more hugs available at Convergence than you have ever imagined, but if you don’t want a hug feel free to say “No Thanks”
Workshops are offered during Convergence at no cost to any attendee. These offer the opportunity for personal and or spiritual growth.
To facilitate a workshop it is enough to have a significant interest or experience in the topic you bring to Convergence. You do not have to be a relationship counsellor to facilitate a discussion on relationships, but you could lead a discussion, or find someone who does have experience to run the workshop with you.
The workshops on offer each year will vary as these are run by the participants of the event. Bring along what you have to share. A wide variety of workshops have been run in the past including:
Talking Circles: Men’s Circle, Women’s Circle and The Circle
Spiritual: Meditation, Shamanic Journey, Chanelling, Energy Healing
Music: Harp, Piano, Ukelele, Singing, Chanting
Bodywork: Massage, Pulsing, Reiki, Yoga
Dance: Five Rhythms, Jive, Hiphop, Free dance, Biodanza
Practical: Weed walks, Table making, Weaving, Nail painting
Fun: Mud people, Water fights, Playshops, Circus skills
Children: Carving, Face painting, Nail painting
Eco: Earth housing, Community building, Composting, Recycling
Prepare a structure or topic ahead of time and post an outline of the workshop in the Networking tent. Someone will usually be available to coordinate workshops and the locations of these. There is always space for spontaneous workshops, under a tree if all the other spaces are being used.
You will have the opportunity to stand up and announce your workshop to the whole group. Prepare a few a words or actions that demonstrate what you will be covering in the workshop.
At the beginning of the workshop make it clear what the workshop is about, what you are going to do within it and give people who are not feeling comfortable with this the opportunity to leave then.
If appropriate get participants agreement on confidentiality — what is shared in the workshop stays within the boundaries of the workshop. Encourage participation but don’t insist on it or enforce it — allow people the safety to say ‘no’, and use their free will.
Provide and assure physical and emotional safety within the workshop. Only facilitate touch which is comfortable, safe and appropriate for the focus of the workshop. e.g. a massage workshop may require removing some clothing, but a relationship discussion probably doesn’t.
Encourage participants to be responsible for what they are feeling, and say what they want and what they do not want.
Be responsible for what happens in the workshop, including following up with any people afterwards if necessary.
Funds of up to $100 are available for materials required for the workshop. Please contact us for details.